- New Zealand Government Budget App — when the NZ budget is announced, it’ll go live on iOS and Android apps. Tablet users get details, mobile users get talking points and speeches. Half-political, but an interesting approach to reaching out to voters with political actions.
- Health Care Data Dump (Washington Post) — 5B health insurance claims (attempted anonymized) to be released. Researchers will be able to access that data, largely using it to probe a critical question: What makes health care so expensive?
- Perl 5.16.0 Out — two epic things here: 590k lines of changes, and announcement quote from Auden. Auden is my favourite poet, Perl my favourite programming language.
- WYSIHTML5 (GitHub) — wysihtml5 is an open source rich text editor based on HTML5 technology and the progressive-enhancement approach. It uses a sophisticated security concept and aims to generate fully valid HTML5 markup by preventing unmaintainable tag soups and inline styles.
Budget App, Health Insurance Data, Perl Release, and HTML5 WYSIWYG Editor
Demythologizing Big Data, Online Scams, A Useful Computer Vision Library, and Opening Politics
- The Mythology of Big Data (PDF) — slides from a Strata keynote by Mark R. Madsen. A lovely explanation of the social impediments to the rational use of data. (via Hamish MacEwan)
- Scamworld — amazing deconstruction of the online “get rich quick” scam business. (via Andy Baio)
- Ceres: Solving Complex Problems with Computing Muscle — Johnny Lee Chung explains the (computer vision) uses of the open source Ceres Non-Linear Least Squares Solver library from Google.
- How to Start a Think Tank (Guardian) — The answer to the looming crisis of legitimacy we’re facing is greater openness – not just regarding who met who at what Christmas party, but on the substance of policy. The best way to re-engage people in politics is to change how politics works – in the case of our project, to develop a more direct way for the people who use and provide public and voluntary services to create better social policy. Hear, hear. People seize on the little stuff because you haven’t given them a way to focus something big with you.
Corruption Remains, Automated Instruction, Eolas Victory Incomplete, and CI Arduino Hack
- Why I Hate The STOCK Act (Clay Johnson) — an attempt to reform insider trading within government, but because Congress exempts itself from substantial penalties then it has little effect where it’s needed most. We won’t see change on the issues that matter to us (copyright, due process for Internet takedowns, privacy, etc.) while the lawmakers are distracted by money.
- Instruction Medium is the Message (Dan Meyer) — Print is a medium. Same as digital photos. Same as a teacher’s voice. Same as a YouTube video. Same as a podcast. These are all different media. And as we know, the medium is the message. The medium defines and constrains and sometimes distorts the message. The math that can be conveyed in a YouTube video is not the same math that can be conveyed in a digital photo or a podcast or a print textbook. Anything that can be replaced by a computer should be; it’s doubtful that successful widespread education consists only of things a computer can replace.
- Eolas Patent a Hollow Victory (Simon Phipps) — those who were extorted by the patent troll will go uncompensated, and the loss of one patent leaves their business model still intact. The patent system is extremely broken in the US, it’s a giant cost of doing business, a regulation-created tax that is paid to trolls instead of to the US Government. What idiot supports a tax that doesn’t go to the government? An ethically-corrupted one (see point 1 above).
- Monitor your Continuous Integration Server with Traffic Lights and an Arduino — nifty little hardware hack. It’s an example of making physical objects which control or portray virtual systems, and it’s tied into this Continuous Integration trend whereby software changes go live as soon as possible rather than being held off until 2am on the first Thursday of the month, when the IT team come in to manage the rollout of the new code. CI, in turn, is an example of failing early on something small rather than failing later and larger. (via Sandy Mamoli)
- Monki Gras 2012 (Stephen Walli) — nice roundup of highlights of the Redmonk conference in London. Sample talk: Why Most UX is Shite.
- Frozen — flow-based programming, intent is to build the toolbox of small pieces loosely joined by ZeroMQ for big data programming.
- Hi, My Name is Diane Feinstein (BuyTheVote) — presents the SOPA position and the entertainment industry’s campaign contributions together with a little narrative. Clever and powerful. (via BoingBoing)
The New York Times looks at the word counts of presidential candidates.
This week's visualization comes from The New York Times and is an example of the increasing usage of visualizations to make political arguments.
Wearable Computing, Secure Implants, Budget Game, Restoring Democracy
- Adafruit Flora — wearable electronics and accessories platform. (via Tim O’Reilly)
- Killed by Code — paper on software vulnerabilities in implantable medical devices. Discovered via Karen Sandler’s wow-generating keynote at linux.conf.au (covered here). (via Selena Deckelmann)
- DIY London — fun little Budget-Hero game to make apparent the trade-offs facing politicians. Kids should play Sim* and Civilization games: you get a sense of tradeoffs and consequences from these that you don’t from insubstantial activities. More City Hall games, please! (via David Eaves)
- Lessig on How Money Corrupts Congress (Rolling Stone) — glad to see Larry’s profile rising. This is key: I lay out my own voucher program that tries to do that, but the challenge isn’t as much to imagine the solution as much as it is to imagine the process to bring about the solution, given how entrenched the cancer is and how much the very people we need to reform the system depend upon the existing system. (see also an excerpt from Lessig’s new book) (via Long Now)
SOPA Politics, Google+ Scraping, Information Overload, Coding Education Game
- On the Problem of Money, Politics, and SOPA (John Battelle) — My first step will be to read this new book from Larry Lessig, an intellectual warrior who many (including myself) lament as bailing on our core issue of IP law to tilt at the supposed windmill of political corruption. But I think, upon deeper reflection, that Larry is simply playing chess a few moves ahead of us all. It’s time to catch up, and move forward together. THIS.
- Student Study Techniques — How to focus in the age of distraction. cf Clay Johnson’s Information Diet.
- Code Racer — interesting addition to the “teach me to program” world: a competitive game to drill your HTML/CSS recall. You race to add HTML and CSS in response to prompts like “add a level 1 heading with the words: Racing Car”. Requires Facebook login. It’s how kids learn to type these days, so it just might work for web design too. (In my day it was with a typewriter and a bib)
Maximum MySQL, Digital News, Unbiased Mining, and Congressional Clue
- How Twitter Stores 250M Tweets a Day Using MySQL (High Scalability) — notes from a talk at the MySQL conference on how Twitter built a high-volume MySQL store.
- How The Atlantic Got Profitable With Digital First (Mashable) — Lauf says his team has focused on putting together premium advertising experiences that span print, digital, events and (increasingly) mobile.
- Data Mining Without Prejudice — an attempt to measure fit without pre-favouring one type of curve over another.
- It Is No Longer OK Not To Know How Congress Works (Clay Johnson) — looking for a specific innovation to try and change the way Washington works by the time Congress votes on SOPA is about as foolish as Steve Jobs trying to diet his way out of having pancreatic cancer.
Technocracy's Blind Spot, Progressive Enhancement, Libraries and ebooks, and Library Fablab
- Nudge Policies Are Another Name for Coercion (New Scientist) — This points to the key problem with “nudge” style paternalism: presuming that technocrats understand what ordinary people want better than the people themselves. There is no reason to think technocrats know better, especially since Thaler and Sunstein offer no means for ordinary people to comment on, let alone correct, the technocrats’ prescriptions. This leaves the technocrats with no systematic way of detecting their own errors, correcting them, or learning from them. And technocracy is bound to blunder, especially when it is not democratically accountable. Take heed, all you Gov 2.0 wouldbe-hackers. (via BoingBoing)
- Country Selector — turns a dropdown into an autocomplete field where available. Very nice! (via Chris Shiflett)
- Ebook Users Wanted — Pew Internet & American Life project looking at ebooks, looking for people who use ebooks and tablet readers in libraries.
- The Public Library, Complete Reimagined (KQED) — the Fayetteville public library is putting in a fab lab. [L]ibraries aren’t just about books. They are about free access to information and to technology — and not just to reading books or using computers, but actually building and making things. (via BoingBoing)
Rebooting Manufacturing, Politics, Disney Open Source, and CS Magic
- Laptops and Looms — very thoughtful and thought-provoking summary of a UK conference on the kinds of Future of Manufacturing tools and businesses that Make and O’Reilly are into. It’s easy to romanticise the industry of old but much of it was horrible and remains so in the countries where we now outsource many of our manufacturing needs. If we’re to bring manufacturing back to Britain (which I think will gradually happen over the coming decade) we need to think differently about the economics of consumer goods including the jobs created and how to eliminate the environmental impacts. (via BERG London)
- Can Government Policies Increase National Long-Run Growth Rates? — We obtain time series estimates of the long run growth rates of 17 OECD countries, and test the hypothesis that these are the same across countries. We find that we cannot reject this hypothesis for the first and last three decades of the 20th century. We conclude that: (i) there are few, if any, feasible policies available that have a significant effect on long run growth rates, and; (ii) any policies that can raise national growth rates must be international in scope. The results therefore have bleak implications for the ability of countries to affect their long run growth rates. Data-informed policy analysis for the despair. (via Jez Weston)
- Walt Disney’s Open Source — texture mapping, library for particle formats, and Python unit test generator, among other things. (via Brenda Wallace)
- The Magic of Computer Science — magic tricks and illusions that are informed by computer science. It’s a hook into teaching computer science principles, along the lines of the excellent CS Unplugged.